Tag Archives: Mike Sweeney

The Rebuilding Process, Year 5

One year ago I asked your reaction following Prince signing in Detroit. One year later, I’m curious what your take is on Josh Hamilton signing with a division foe, for nearly $100 million less than Prince got.

This is my 5th installment in a series of posts I’ve done recapping and forecasting the Mariners Rebuilding Process, since Jack Z took over as GM. You can find the prior posts here: Years 1 and 2 Year 3 Year 4

Let’s recap the 5 year rebuild plan I laid out in October 2008.

    THE BLUEPRINT

2009, Year 1: Shed dead weight, Begin overhauling the farm
Summary: Traded Putz for Guti, Carp, Vargas, and managed to get rid of Silva, Betancourt, and Johjima, while also using 3 of first 5 picks on Ackley, Franklin, Seager.
Grade: A+

2010, Year 2: Shed dead weight, Continue building the farm (and lock up Felix)
Summary: Signed Griffey and Sweeney, locked up Felix and acquired Cliff Lee, then swapped him for Smoak. Could have done without the Morrow trade and of course the Figgins contract. Selected Walker, Paxton, Pryor in rounds 1, 4, 5.
Grade: B-

2011, Year 3: Bring the youth up, Evaluate potential, Acquire more young talent
Summary: Hired Wedge, traded for Brendan Ryan, picked up Wilhelmson at a local bar, and signed low cost vets such as Cust, Olivo, Kennedy. Fielded an even mix of youth and vets, but loads of young talent in the pipeline for the first time in forever. At the deadline traded Fister for Furbush and Wells. Hultzen chosen with #2 pick.
Grade: B

2012, Year 4: continue youth movement, achieve .500 record
Summary: Swapped Pineda for Montero and made some shrewd acquistions in Jaso, Iwakuma, Luetge, Millwood, Perez, then saw a young roster come up 6 games short of .500, while improving by 8 games from prior season. Picked Mike Zunino #3 overall.
Grade: A

2013, Year 5: add 1-2 big pieces, contend for playoffs
Summary: Thus far we’ve seen a few low cost signings in Bay, Ibanez, Bonderman, and a 1 for 1 swap of Vargas-Morales.
Grade: ???

I’ve said this before, but in 4 1/2 years on the job, Bill Bavasi set this organization back 5 years, minimum. Last year I stated

“For the first time on Jack’s watch, I think the on field W/L record is important. .500 ball is a reasonable expectation this year, which would be a welcomed site for our eyes.”

Well, The M’s flirted with .500 in 2012 and showed noticeable improvement, albeit without much offense yet again. Entering year 5 the talk of laying the foundation and replenishing the system should be over, and playoff contention ought to be close. Zduriencik has said as much if you’ve heard any of his recent interviews.

If the blueprint holds form, the M’s will be adding 1-2 big pieces this offseason, and assembling a playoff capable team in 2013. This sounds great but it is nearly January and almost all the big name free agents have signed elsewhere, and the only acquisitions Seattle has made are Robert Andino, Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, and a swap of Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales. Not exactly blockbuster moves capable of propelling the M’s from 75 wins into contention. I suppose the big moves we hoped for are still possible if Jack can, for example, land Justin Upton and Michael Bourn, and add a veteran pitcher to round out the rotation. That would certainly be a competitive team, but is that the best route to take?

Given how the AL West is shaping up, it may be best to hang onto the prospects, add a couple decent pieces, and shoot for a respectable 80-85 wins in 2013, while waiting until next year to make the big splash. I don’t see a scenario, at this point, for the M’s to overtake Texas or Anaheim in 2013, and probably not Oakland either. So why go all in? I’m not suggesting Seattle give up any hopes they had for next year, just because the division rivals are pulling away, but I don’t want the M’s to mortgage the future to field a better team next year, but one that cannot be sustained.

Keeping a positive trajectory is crucial next year, seeing an improved offense is also important, but that’s about all we can reasonably expect in 2013. This puts real contention off until next year, and adds a year to the original 5 year blueprint, but taking the path that leads to sustained success is what is most important. We’ve seen the Washington Nationals do this, and Tampa Bay also, and with much less money. It may not be popular, given the fractured fan base, plummeting attendance, and a decade of bad baseball, but Seattle has never given a player a $100 million contract, and unless it is a Felix extension, I don’t see it happening for at least another year. And surprisingly, I’m fine with that.

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Mariners Recap — 5/21/2010

Mmm, 15 runs, it always goes down smooth. Beating up on San Diego brings to mind many Anchor Man quotes, but I’ll try and resist. First off, Sween Dog and Bard were fun to watch and cheer for last night. That is a scientific fact! Ok, I’ll stop with the Anchor Man fun. But really, who could have ever guessed those 2 vets could rack up 6 hits, 16 total bases, 3 home runs, and 9 RBI, in one game! Get used to seeing Bard behind the plate, because he has surpassed Hips and Moore’s combined performances in about 5 games.

This game was littered with statistical oddities, which is typical for a game where the teams combine for 30 hits and 23 runs. Baseball is a funny sport. The M’s scored 12 runs in 8 games between April 30th, and May 8th, a 78 inning stretch. Last night they scored 13 runs in 4 innings. Of course, they weren’t facing Wade LeBlanc during any of those abysmal 78 innings. I don’t understand how LeBlanc is good but I guess it helps pitching in the NL. It is also fun to look at how batting averages can change from one game to the next, when 15 hits are collected. The first number is the player’s average prior to the game, the second number is the new current average-

Sweeney- .226, .276
Bradley- .221, .244
Bard- .333, .400
Wilson- .239, .255

Here are a few more notes and hero/goat-

  • Milton Bradley had a great game. He worked the count, and his 3 hits were all stung. I could see him having a great rest of the year.
  • 347 pitches were thrown between both teams. I think that’s a lot.
  • I doubt Cliff Lee ever gets another win in a Mariners uniform when giving up 7 earned runs. But that’s what happened last night. Cliff didn’t have his best stuff, but even still, he didn’t walk a guy. His control is ridiculous.
  • The Padres didn’t draw a walk, and the Mariners scored 15 runs, but it was San Diego that had 3 more at-bats. Is this weird? I don’t know. I’m not sure why I’m typing this.

    Hero: Mike Sweeney and Josh Bard. Gotta go with co-heroes in this one. Those two were monsters last night.
    Goat: Jose Lopez. Lost in the fun and hugs from last night is the 0-5 night Lopey had. His defense has been great and with so many others struggling at the plate, Jose has flown under the radar. It’s tough to imagine Lopez gets anywhere near his 25 HR, 96 RBI from last year.

    Finally, if you didn’t read the live blog that Jeff Sullivan was doing over at LL, it is worth a read. I have pasted a few of my favorite lines. That dude is funny, and between the humor he recaps the game nicely too. Check that out after the jump! Continue reading

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    Game Recap – 5/14

    I didn’t see all of the game and have another post in the works so this recap will be fairly short. 

    By all accounts, this was a nice win for the Mariners.  There was solid pitching all the way around and the power surge continued with another 3 home runs tonight. 

    Cy Young, err, I mean Doug Fister started tonight and wasn’t as sharp as he’s been lately.  With that being said, Fister pitched 5 innings of 1-run ball and got the win.  The one run that did score, scored on a balk.  The Fistinator walked 3 guys which is way more than normal, but minimized the damage with quality pitches on the corner.  Fister has probably been my favorite part of this season which is really weird.

    The M’s scored in the first inning on a 2-run Guti bomb.  He crushed that ball.  They then would play add on with solo shots by Adam Moore and Mike Sweeney.  If you aren’t keeping track, that is Mike Sweeney’s second homer in as many days.  Yesterday before the game started, I laughed at my mom when she said that Sweeney might hit a home run.  Always listen to your mom I guess.

    The bullpen shut down the Rays for the most part.  K Tex came in and threw 2 shutout innings and made everyone think, “Maybe this guy should pitch a little more.”  Shawn Kelley gave up a 2-run homer to Longoria but it was a decent pitch and it was Longoria.  That guy is so good.  Aardsma pitched a perfect 9th for the save.

    Now for the hero and goat:

    Hero:  Mike Sweeney.  There were a lot of guys who could have been the hero tonight but I’m going with Mike.  I’m not picking Sween-dawg because he hit a home run but because he stole a base.  I couldn’t believe Sween-dawg stole a base.  That was his first stolen base in 4 years.  Oh yeah, he’s itting the ball pretty well too.

    Goat:  Casey Kotchman.  I didn’t watch all of the game and Kotchman was the “biggest suckfest” on Lookout Landing so I’ll give it to him.

    That was a fun game.  Hopefully the rest of this weekend brings a few more wins.  Go M’s!

    Andrew

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    A Tale of Two Miserable Weekends…and some ridiculous stats!

    I didn’t think things could get more painful than watching the Mariners give up 3 late game homeruns on route to being swept last weekend in Chicago. All 3 games were 1 run losses, and I remember thinking the M’s should have legitimately taken 2 of 3 in that series. Despite the frustration, those losses were a product of a few hiccups, albeit in consecutive games, by our usually solid bullpen. There wasn’t too much analysis required, and while it sucked to have them happen in a row, that’s baseball. We moved on.

    This past weekend, however, had many more layers of dreadfulness. To condense this mess, I’ve bulleted 5 events that were pretty unbelievable (not in a good way), and another 5 RIDICULOUS facts that may require reading with a puke bucket by your side…

    1. Sweeney’s double play: When a walk, sac fly, base hit, or really anything past the infield would have won the game, Mike swung at the 1st pitch from Darren O’Day, a slider low and away, and ended the bases loaded threat in the bottom of the 10th on Friday. Although I must say, none of this surprised me.
    2. Byrnes whiffed bunt: This oddity captured the short Eric Byrnes era well. With the bases juiced just one inning after Sweeney failed in the same situation, Wak called on Byrnes to just make contact on a bunt attempt. I liked the call because asking Byrnes to not strike out or pop it up to an infielder is a tall task. Still, he failed…and then struck out for good measure.
    3. Bradley’s blown pop up: Many say Milton just gave up on this play, while some argue the sun got in his eyes. Regardless, this ball needed to be caught, because it allowed 2 runs to score with 2 outs after Felix had fought back from bases loaded and none out.
    4. Aardsma’s blown save: For the 2nd consecutive game following 8 dazzling innings by “Can’t buy a break Fister,” Aardsma surrendered a lead-off walk, then after a stolen base and a base hit, the game was tied, the save was blown, and Fister was given another no decision. I’m scared every time Aardsma enters the game and starts firing fastballs. This past week reminded me why I have this fear, despite his league leading 8 saves.
    5. 2 passed balls in 1 inning by Rob Johnson: Perhaps the previous events are explainable, but this one is not. Andrew touched on “Hips” and his lack of catching in his recap from yesterday’s game, so I won’t ramble. This tweet from Dave Cameron pretty well sums it up-

      “Rob Johnson had as many passed balls in 1 inning yesterday as every non-Mariner AL team has all season.”

    What is especially disappointing about all this is that if ANY one of these scenarios hadn’t happened, the M’s would likely have won the game. But it all happened, and as the wheels came off, it was like watching a bad horror film that started off decent, turned frustratingly unrealistic, and ended up humorous. The snowball of unfortunate events that overcame this team could not be stopped, and this team was coming up with new ways to blow games.

    And now, grab your bucket… Continue reading

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    I Need to Vent

    Last night had set up so well. I was going to the Husky Spring Game, which we will write about later, then, I was excited to come home and watch Cliff Lee dazzle the Rangers in his Mariners debut. Needless to say, my expectations were high for the evening. The Husky game did not disappoint, though it took 2 hours to drive from Maple Valley to Montlake even with the 520 carpool lane! And Cliff Lee didn’t disappoint either. But the Mariners offense did. Don Wakamatsu did. Eric Byrnes and Mike Sweeney did as well. And now for the venting…

    This offense ticks me off. Not scoring runs ticks me off. 9 home runs in 23 games ticks me off. Our lineup, bench, and designated hitters really tick me off. Having an 0-5 record when the game is tied in the 9th inning really, really, grinds my gears. Call it bad luck, but that does nothing to help my frustration. Apparently this stuff balances out over a 162 game season, but in a division of 4 teams, where the separation from first to last is a half game, garbage like last night can’t happen.

    Having back to back innings where the bases are loaded with 1 out, then coming away with no runs both times is absurd. Pinch hitting double play machine Mike Sweeney was painful to watch. Also painful was seeing Eric Byrnes whiff on a bunt attempt. But that’s okay because Wakamatsu says Byrnes is “the ultimate competitor.” Maybe he is, but he’s also the ultimate spaz, the ultimate infield pop up artist, and the ultimate swinging strike king. He and Sweeney should not be on this team. And back to Wakamatsu, who normally is a pretty likable manager. I’m not that dumb fan who wishes their manager would be fired after a couple questionable moves, but his lineup selection is horrible. How can you possibly justify having Lopez as the clean up hitter?!

    I’m not irrational and I realize there is plenty of time, no one is running away with the division, and the bats are bound to heat up. But there is something about the nature of our losses…walk-off hits, pitching gems wasted, and of course last night where any ball past the infield would have won the game twice, that just makes my head want to explode. I’m sure the plan is to stay within a couple games of the division leader in July, make a move for a bat, get Bedard back, and start the playoff run. But until then, I will expect games like last night to be commonplace, especially as long as Sweeney and Byrnes are on this team, and Wakamatsu’s infatuation with Lopez in the 4 hole continues.

    And what the heck is with sending Kelley down to Tacoma? He is one of our best relievers. Weird.

    I am about one more painful loss away from taking a week off from this team. That loss may very well come today, because it looks like Texas just scored 3 in the second. 2 of those runs came off a bloop pop fly that Bradley just gave up on. As Ryan Divish says, “Milton Bradley does things in a way where people can’t help but dislike him.” Those 3 runs should be plenty enough for the win against our offense, which again just hit into a double play with bases loaded and 1 out. Thanks to Rob for that one. That would be 2 losses in 17 hours, coming against Lee and Felix.

    (This is just one Good Guy’s opinion. I’m sure the others disagree on parts of this)

    -Dan

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    Game Recap – 4/21/2010

    That went as expected.  I feel a little bit bad for Baltimore.  They really suck and probably won’t reach 10 wins for another month.  Seriously.  Thankfully, I’m a Mariners fan and it appears that the dark days like those are past us.  After starting the season with a 2-6 mark and causing concern throughout Mariner nation, the M’s have rattled off wins in 7 of their last 8 games and are only a 1/2 game out of first place. 

    This game had two key parts that determined the outcome:  Felix Hernandez and the bottom of the 4th inning.  We’ll start with the latter.

    Guti started the inning with an out but then the miraculous happened, Jose Lopez drew a walk!  When that happens I feel like something special is about to happen.  After Loafie walked, Kotchman singled and Sweeney popped out (more on Sweeney later).  Tui then hit a sharp single and Lopez stopped at third.  Rob Johnson hit a slow roller up the middle and somehow Tui beat the throw to second.  Then Jack Wilson cleared the bases with a double.  Bingo!  That’s all the runs the Mariners needed.  What’s even more weird is that all those RBI’s came from Hips and Hot-Hands Wilson.  I was beginning to believe that Jack Wilson was going to hit about .230 all year and I was okay with that because of his amazing defense.  All of a sudden, he has 4 doubles in 3 games.  I hope he can continue to hit at least somewhat. 

    Once that bottom of the 4th happened the game was over.  Most 3 run games can be a little bit tense but not this one, I had no fear that the Mariners would lose this game and that is because of Felix Hernandez.  Felix didn’t appear to be very sharp early; leaving fastballs over the middle of the plate and not mixing in other pitches.  He gave up four hits in the first two innings and one unearned run.  But then, he got in one of those moods.  You know, the “Hey, I’m Felix and I’m better than you” mood.  His control got better and his other pitches became a part of the game plan.  He faced Adam Jones in the 6th and snapped off a 90 mph slider to strike him out.  In the 9th, he ended the game with nasty curveball that Reimold chased as it dove to the dirt.  After a few games in which Felix didn’t quite look like the king we saw last summer, he found his crown tonight and showed why he’s one of the best pitchers in the AL. 

    Kevin Millwood was weird.  I’ve watched Millwood pitch quite a bit and he’s never looked like that.  I’d have to do some research to be sure but his fastball used to have a little more velocity and didn’t run so much.  It seems as if he switched from a 4-seam fastball to a 2-seamer that had a little more run on it.  It ranged anywhere from 86-91 mph and came in on righties.  He threw his normal slider that was around 82 mph.  That’s a normal Millwood pitch and was pretty effective.  Then, he threw in this loopy breaking ball.  It was SLOW!  It came in at about 70 mph and had some major break to it.  You know what that repertoire looks a lot like?  Doug Fister.  No, seriously.  Matthew made this observation about halfway through the game and then I started to pay closer attention.  Fister threw in that loopy breaking ball on Monday and had some very good success with it.  So, in a week where Fister has been compared to everyone from Brad Radke to Carlos Silva, it seems like Millwood may have been trying to imitate Fister.

    Hero/goat after the jump along with a few notes.  Continue reading

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    Game Recap 4/20 – M’s 3, Orioles 1

    I said I’d take the recap on this one, and then ended up not being able to watch most of it, so this recap will be short.  As much as any game is in a 162 game season, this is the type of game that the Mariners need to win if they want to challenge for the playoffs.  Facing an incredibly struggling team with an inexperienced and mediocre pitcher, a good team has to take advantage.  Will they always?  No, and if they hadn’t it wouldn’t have been the end of the season or anything.  But with the chance to go above .500, a loss would have been more frustrating than a win is satisfying.

    Not to say that this win isn’t satisfying.  The offense, while not scoring a lot tonight, did enough and has a lot of guys locked in pretty well.  I remember being told by a coach when I pitched that the most important inning you’ll throw is right after your offense has scored some runs.  It’s the pitcher’s job to maintain the momentum to some degree.  Tonight in the first, the Orioles couldn’t hold a one run lead, and the Mariners could.  Vargas, from what I could tell, did everything you could want from him.  The Orioles are a terrible team right now, but they have enough guys who could hurt you if you don’t execute your pitches.  I’m anxious to see what Snell will do in his next start.  He’s not showing more than Fister or Vargas right now, better stuff or not.  Fister and Vargas will get hit more than they have when they face better teams, but they’ll minimize some damage through lack of walks.  Right now, I’m not confident Snell can limit walks or hits.  I’d love for him more than anyone to prove me wrong, though.

    The offense is doing about what we hoped it would, with Ichiro and Figgins on base and a few guys hot behind them.  I’m still not convinced that Kotchman will keep this up or ever hit lefties, but he looks excellent right now.  Bradley swings harder than anyone I’ve ever seen.  He’s a little more contact away from a monster year.  Hopefully he’s alright after leaving the game tonight.  I haven’t heard yet what the injury was.  Franklin is looking like a legitimate MVP candidate.  Once Figgy starts getting a few more hits to go with his walks, they could really have something.  The little hot streak from Wilson is nice too.

    Hero, goat, and a few quick notes (after the jump): Continue reading

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    The Case for Jermaine Dye

    First, thank God Felix pitches today. We could really use our ace today in hopes of stopping this skid. It’s rare to ever have a must win game in April, and today is not that, but it’s close. 1-5 would be a horrible start, especially considering these are games against division foes. So, on to the post.

    Ugly offense
    Through the first 5 games, our offensive numbers are staggering. 15 runs on just 19 hits and a collective team average of .194! Now, obviously the team won’t average 3 runs and 3.8 hits per game all year long, but how much better can we be? Are we just looking at an awful offensive team like last year? That thought is definitely starting to creep in, despite having 97% of the season still to play. Which leads me to this…

    Jermaine Dye
    Please, go get Jermaine Dye. This is becoming a no brainer in my opinion. Between these two players, who fills a greater need for the M’s?

    Player A hits for decent average but without power, and is a great chemistry guy.
    Player B has a good bat and can hit for power and play outfield if needed.

    Player B is the obvious choice. Now, the casualty for signing Dye, in my mind, has to be Mike Sweeney, who in this comparison is player A. Perhaps you keep Sweeney and drop Byrnes, but Byrnes provides speed, a good glove, and some bat, which is just what you want from your 4th outfielder.

    I realize this team needs offense and Sweeney was swinging a good bat in spring training, but this team needs a power threat whose best attribute is something other than team mascot and chemistry expert. Really, the only scenario where keeping Sweeney makes sense is if the team is playing well, roles are defined, and the clubhouse atmosphere is exceptional. This was the case last year but at some point if you are serious about contending, you can’t afford 2 bench spots for a platoon DH, (Griffey and Sweeney) especially when neither can play defense. Again, you could get away with this last year, but that was when the team was just trying to play .500 ball and bounce back from a 101 loss season, and was not too serious about contending.

    I’d keep Griffey over Sweeney because Junior has a little more pop, and he may be needed to keep Bradley happy. Plus, Sweeney’s contract is league minimum. Also, watching Tui play first base just fine the other day tells me Sweeney won’t ever see the field, and so clearly his only role is to platoon at DH with Griffey.

    With only a 5 game sample, it’s obvious that offense will be the Achilles heel of this team. Our pitching and defense will be fine, and this being the case, I think you have to take whatever money you were offering Washburn, and offer it to Dye. Sweeten it by a million or whatever is required. I realize Jermaine Dye isn’t the missing piece to a World Series contender, but it is a start, and he gives us a better shot at staying in the race until June/July when we are finally healthy. This just makes too much sense to me. It’s not even worth waiting a week to see if Sweeney stays hot, or our offense suddenly starts averaging 6 runs a game. 2 designated hitters who can do nothing but platoon is too restricting for a team trying to make a run. Jack, go get Jermaine!

    -Dan

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